It looks like Toyota , after a very huge hiccup, is set to return to the world of Lee Mans racing. Its pair of TS030 Hybrids have completed their first testing run at Cirque De La Sarthe – the name of the 24 Hours of Le Mans track. This test wasn’t just any test either. The all-new hybrid tested very well, as both cars finished the 10 laps required to qualify and the fastest lap amongst the two was 3:27.204, which was only 1.277 seconds slower than the fastest car (the Audi R18 E-Tron Quattro ).
The only issues with the run that Toyota Motorsport GmbH reported were a few bits of “minor bodywork damage,” which the team didn’t elaborate on in its press release. Other than that, the test was a complete success for the Toyota team, but it was down its main driver, Stéphane Sarrazin, who is recovering from injuries sustained in a bicycling accident. Sarrazin is expected to be ready to resume driving duties before the race starts next week, so everything is looking good for Toyota. With Sarrazin missing, Alex Wurz, Nicolas Lapierre and Kazuki Nakajima were behind the wheel of the No. 7 car, and the No. 8 car had Anthony Davidson and Sébastien Buemi piloting it.
With all of the new cars, like the Toyota TS030 and the extremely intriguing Nissan DeltaWing , this 24 Hours of Le Mans is sure to be a fun one to watch. The race starts on Saturday, June 16th and the green flag drops at 3:00 p.m. Le Mans time, which is 7:00 a.m. EST.
Click past the jump to read Toyota Motorsport GmbH’s full press release on the debut.
gallery: Toyota Racing TS030 Hybrid
TOYOTA Racing’s pair of TS030 HYBRID cars achieved another milestone today by successfully participating in the traditional test day to prepare for the Le Mans 24 Hours on 16-17 June.
For the first time, TOYOTA Racing had two cars in action, having completed all testing so far with only the #7 car. A brief shakedown for the #8 car on Friday capped a huge effort from the team at Toyota Motorsport GmbH (TMG) to complete the car in time for the test.
Both TS030 HYBRIDs, displaying their new TOYOTA hybrid-blue livery, were in action immediately when the lights went green at 9am, beginning another new chapter for the team with its first multi-car test.
The complete driver line-up for car #7 of Alex Wurz, Nicolas Lapierre and Kazuki Nakajima took part in the test while the #8 featured Anthony Davidson and Sébastien Buemi.
It was decided that Stéphane Sarrazin should miss today’s activities to give him additional time to recover from cuts and bruises sustained in a cycling accident. Stéphane will return to driving duties for TOYOTA Racing for the Le Mans race week.
One priority for today’s test was for Le Mans newcomers Kazuki and Sébastien to complete the mandatory 10 laps required to allow participation in the race. This was comfortably achieved in the morning.
Yoshiaki Kinoshita, Team President: "Today was a significant step for us because it was our first chance to see the car on track against our opposition at Le Mans. It’s hard to judge lap times but it certainly strengthens our racing spirit. Overall we are satisfied to complete a full day’s running with both cars without any significant issue; the only interruptions came with some minor bodywork damage. Unfortunately we only had five drivers with us following Stéphane’s accident. But he’s an experienced driver so we have no concerns; he’ll be on top form for the race I’m sure."
Hisatake Murata, Hybrid Project Leader: "To see the TOYOTA HYBRID System – Racing on track at Le Mans is a day we have been anticipating for a long time. We are continuously adjusting and improving the system, so each test day brings a step forward and that was true again today. The combination of downshifting, braking and charging is really working in harmony; it’s like an elaborate dance. I would like to express my thanks to all the guys at Cologne and Higashifuji who have worked so hard to prepare for this. From a personal point of view, today really brought back memories of my last time working as part of a TOYOTA team here. I was engine engineer for the #33 TS010 back in 1992 when we finished in second place, so after a 20-year break it’s great to be back."